Friday, May 4, 2012

Humboldt Peak trip report

I made this trip report over at with lots of nice photos. This is a very scenic 14er to do, of moderate difficulty.

[i]Origionally written last year, but I never added the photos. It's been "inactive" for a while.[/i]
It was kind of slow going on this trip. I could blame my recent gym slacking or “first 14er this year” status, but we did okay. Total RT time was just under 6 hours.
The road to the upper Trailhead was rough. Luckily I took my truck! I have heard of Honda Civics making it up the road, but I would only attempt this in YOUR car. (as in, not a small car that I owned).
We started at 6:16 AM; my climbing partner was pushing for a 5 AM start but I value my sleep!
The first 2 miles the trail is fairly flat compared to later on. It just seems to go and go. The whole time I was wondering- why did they close this to 4WD vehicles? My truck could have made it easily.

(the view of Humboldt is a little intimidating!)
It was cool and slightly overcast and as soon as we broke out of the trees near the lakes the wind kicked up very stiff and cold. Stupidly, I didn't don a jacket. We continued up through the meadow with great views of Broken Hand Peak, Crestone Needle, and Crestone Peak. If it wasn't so cold and windy, it would have been a great place to hang out.

You spend what seems like a mile in the shadow of Humboldt peak traversing across the base of the mountain to get to the back side. Once the ridge pitch comes into view, you realize that the fun really hasn't started yet.  Gaining the ridge proved to be the hardest part of the hike, and you finally achieve it at ~13,200. The views are spectacular from this point on.

The cold wind continued as we headed up the exposed ridge. It’s rocky and steep and you are right on the ridge crest as you ascend. We had little shelter from the wind as we climbed up. Looking up to the summit, the true summit is visible  at the saddle and most of the way up.  Eventually as you near the false summit you lose sight of the top. Once the false summit is gained all the hard work is behind you and you can enjoy a nice exposed walk along the ridge or play it safer and take the trail. At the end we opted for some brief class 3 climbing to gain the summit.

The weather cleared out and the wind relaxed a little. As is becoming tradition for us, I enjoyed my “beer summit” which this time was New Belgium Trippel in a glass bottle.  I usually cannot finish the whole 12 oz after such a climb, and I enlisted the help of a nice gentleman who ran up to finish off the bottle.  Beer really does taste better when you’ve earned it!

From the top of the mountain there are truly amazing views in every direction. It was a relatively clear day with clouds to the west coming in slowly.

Crestone Needle (L) and Crestone Peak (R)

On the way back I was struck by 3 things- this basin is beautiful, the Crestones look scary and amazing from this side, and the final 2 miles seemed to take forever!

This little stream is a welcome sight!
Overall, this is a new favorite of mine, my gut tells me I’ll be back soon to tackle the Needle. We met some nice friendly people at the top, it was more challenging than anticipated, and the views were outstanding.
On the way back down we found a weary hiker who had the misfortune of parking at the lower lot and had completed over 16 miles already. We gave him a ride back to his car, for which he was grateful!

Link to full Picasa Album here

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